If you’ve ever stopped to think about all the harm that drug and alcohol addictions can cause, your mind probably goes to the brain, the lungs, the heart – those important organs that are necessary to keep us alive. But there’s something else that can be just as important, even if you’d never guess it: nutrition. Not only can substance abuse affect the way you eat and the way your body absorbs vitamins and minerals, but proper nutrition can help your body with the symptoms of withdrawal.
It’s not unusual for people with substance use disorders to be malnourished. Some drugs, like meth, make people have no appetite at all. Marijuana, on the other hand, is known to make people have cravings to eat tons of unhealthy foods. Alcohol inhibits the absorption of vital nutrients such as thiamine (vitamin B1), vitamin B12, folic acid, and zinc, and it can also reduce your appetite over time. In addition to all that, many people simply don’t think to eat while they’re high, too consumed with the rush or euphoria they’re feeling. Lack of food can also be a real problem. If someone is homeless, or even just financially underwater, it can be difficult to obtain healthy options. It is, unfortunately, much cheaper and easier to buy greasy fast food than to cook a meal with plenty of veggies and lean proteins.
While most addiction treatment facilities have chefs and nutritionists on staff, once the patient returns home, he has to learn how to choose and cook healthy foods that are going to support his recovery. This is why, as part of a comprehensive care program, Boston Medical Center is offering a cooking class tailored specifically to recovering addicts. There’s a demonstration kitchen, where a chef/nutritionist shows clients how to cook meals geared toward diabetics or people with heart disease. She also educates them on the ways that proper nutrition helps the body heal from the ravages of addiction. Many people struggling with addiction find themselves craving foods high in sugar, fat, and carbohydrates. The cooking class teaches them how to replaces these cravings with healthier, mood-enhancing foods. For example, you might trade fruit for candy – it’s still sweet but not nearly so unhealthy.
The simple act of cooking, or of learning how to cook, can be a benefit in itself. Recovering addicts might find themselves at loose ends, bored and purposeless and at risk for relapse. Cooking is a productive hobby. It keeps the hands and mind busy without being too stressful, and at the end you have a tangible result that you can feel proud of yourself for. Who knows, it might even lead to a new career path.
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.